My daughter, Katelyn, has been lucky to be able to participate in horse riding at Equine Dreams since age 4. She is now 7. It is an amazing program and this type of therapy has impacted her in such a positive way. Katelyn suffered a traumatic brain injury at birth which has led to cortical vision impairment and challenges with gross and fine motor skills. When she first began, she needed so much assistance with her posture, body movements, verbal cues, and overall confidence. Each year she has increased her strength, body awareness and joy for riding as well as interacting with the horses. It is an outstanding therapy for her visual development and body awareness as she must use her vision along with her body movements to lead the horses appropriately. She still requires the verbal cues and help aligning her body, but the improvement over the years has been remarkable.
We are truly grateful for being a part of the Equine Dream family. We do what we can in terms of volunteering time and finances. We are so thankful for all those who do the same to keep the program going for all the families involved. I look forward to every spring that comes as we are able to resume lessons and see how much Katelyn will learn and grow with the new season. Words cannot express how much joy it brings me to see her riding, gaining strength, confidence, and independence. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Our son, Joey, is 10 years old and has cerebral palsy. He has been participating in therapeutic horseback riding at Equine Dreams for several years and looks forward to riding each week with expectant joy. He loves being told that he's a cowboy.
The therapy he receives enables him to benefit from an improved gait when walking. It also provides him with the sensory input he needs to help him vocalize. It helps to increase his trunk strength and endurance which enables him to do so many other things. He enjoys the relationships he has developed at Equine Dreams with the therapists, volunteers and, of course, the horses. It has also given two of his older brothers an opportunity to serve him by being his volunteer sidewalkers. Equine Dreams has been a remarkable blessing for our whole family.
I am writing to you in support of EquineDreamsTherapeuticRidingCenter and all the wonderful things they have assisted the individuals I work with achieve. I have been a QMRP with Open Door Rehabilitation Center in Sandwich, IL for a little over 12 years. I have had many individuals involved in various programs available through Equine Dreams. Words can not express the feelings of joy, excitement and self-fulfillment that these individuals have experienced. Not only is Equine Dreams strengthening their bodies in ways that are not possible without the use of the horses, but they are also learning skills that 12+ years of academic training has been unable to teach them. Working in adult services, I have witnessed many cases where an individual will age out of school programs and be left with limited or no therapy services available. Equine Dreams has filled this gap for many of my clients that need things like physical therapy, social skills training and/or improved emotional and cognitive development.
Each and every person that works at Equine Dreams pours their hearts into everything they do. The hours are long, the summers are hot and most of the time the jobs are dirty and yet they keep coming back. The staff consists of a very dedicated, well rounded and diverse group of professionals with a wide variety of expertise. It is very rare in this rural area to find such a caring mixture of people focused on the same goals.
Thank you for your time and energy reading this letter. Be assured that any grants or contributions received by Equine Dreams are being used wisely to improve the quality of life experienced by many individuals with a wide range of disabilities. In our immediate area there are no other programs that provided the kind of services that Equine Dreams provides and the fact that they do it at no cost to the individual allows many people who would not be able to afford this opportunity a place to feel special.
I started to come to Equine Dreams in August of 2004. I have to say it has been "without a doubt" the best therapy I've had in 9 years. In the summer of 2006 I tried and got my drivers license, and I would never even tried to get something that great, if it wasn't for this place. I've learned so much and I've had the privilege to help another with similar problems, but for different reasons, with his exercises and other stuff. My goal is to walk with a cane and, I'm sure I will do it as long as I continue to have a place like Equine Dreams to go to. My life would be very different if I never went there.
My brother, Blake Hepner, uses the services of Equine Dreams. Blake has been a part of the organization for many years. He was introduced to Equine Dreams and its services to help disabled people, through a coworker. Blake donated for years to Equine Dreams to help people with disabilities. He had even talked to my daughter about volunteering there when she was in high school, but she was hesitant to be around horses. So in Blake's heart Equine Dreams was very important to him and to the people that the services help. On February 1, 2005, Blake had an accident and suffers from Traumatic Brain Injury. We contacted Equine Dreams about their services to see if it could help Blake with his rehabilitation. Blake has been going there for the last 4 years and learning to groom, follow directions and ride the horse. This has been very helpful for Blake in many ways with his disability -- it has helped him improve physically and mentally. Equine Dreams holds a very special place in our family's hearts. To see Blake smile every week when he goes to work with the horses--shows how important it is to him. Blake never knew when he was making the donations to help others with disabilities, that he would need the services in the future.
Thanks Equine Dreams for everything you have done for my brother, Blake Hepner.
Hunter is full of laughter and smiles. They are two things that remain the same after his accident. When he gets on his horse to ride, his smile is wider than ever. His laughter can be heard as he is riding down the sensory trail. We are so thankful for the staff and facility at Equine Dreams and the joy that riding a horse brings to our son, Hunter.
Levi has really enjoyed his opportunity at equine dreams. The staff and volunteers have been amazing and Levi has really taken to then and responds well to their instruction. Their dedication to Levi and all the other individuals is second to none. The smile on Levi's face when he tells his horse to "walk on" and the horse takes him around is priceless. He gets so happy. The experience for Levi at equine has been a blessing and helpful for his therapy.
From the horses, volunteers, riders, etc., as a parent of a rider, I have countless learning opportunities every time I see the team teach my daughter at her lessons during the summer. I would love if I could continue learning by their example how to teach my daughter to help increase her self-advocacy skills year round.
Our son has been involved with Equine Dreams for the past 10 years.He has cerebral palsy and autism.Equine Dreams has provided him the opportunity to get physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy all while having an enjoyable ride on a beautiful animal.
The program is run very well and the staff is so professional.They are very supportive of our son and have made a material difference in improving our son's quality of life over the past 10 years. We 100% support the mission of Equine Dreams!
I am writing to let you know we have been involved with Equine Dream’s for the last 3 years, and going on our 4th year. We absolutely love the program. I have twins with special needs and they just love to be on and around the horses. My kids and I get so much from the program each and every time they ride. They get to have fun riding the horses and I get to see my children being typical kids with HUGE smiles on their faces. They are working every muscle in their bodies and don’t even realize it! This is a great way to make therapy fun. They will do things on the horses that they won’t do for some of their therapists. We have never been charged to ride or asked to pay any fees since we’ve started this program. Equine Dreams allows us to participate in a therapeutic riding program other wise we would not be able to afford this program along with all of the other therapies we do. It is a blessing to our family just to be a part of the program.
My daughter, who is 11 years old and has multiple disabilities, is a participant in the Equine Dreams therapeutic riding program located in Newark, Illinois. My daughter has been involved with this program for over 8 years now and has greatly benefited from the activities offered through this program. As she cannot walk independently, this program offers a wonderful opportunity for her to experience movement by riding horses that are specifically trained to work with children with special needs.
The two most unique aspects of Equine Dreams are that is operated entirely by volunteers and the families who have children participating in the program are not charged any fees. I am very grateful that there is such a quality program available in our local area. Thank you.
There are currently three teachers at HopeWallSchool who utilize Equine Dreams services.Melissa Yarbrough has been attending with her class for the last six years.Sonia Villarreal has been attending with her class for the last three years and Jennifer Giese has been attending with her students for the past five years.We all bring students with moderate to severe disabilities aged five to ten years old.During our time with Equine Dreams, we have never been required or even asked to pay for their skilled services.Sharon and her team of volunteers have been more than accommodating with our many schedules and ongoing needs.During our time with Equine Dreams we each have seen different improvements with our wide variety of students.We have worked on social skills, speech improvement, independent muscle movements, following verbal and visual directions, improving negative behaviors, and overcoming fear of new things.Equine Dreams gives our students an opportunity to experience a whole new outdoor, rural environment.Our school houses a large amount of low income students who would otherwise not be able to afford the services of hippotherapy that Equine Dreams offers.
I would like to take a few minutes to tell you how thankful Jake and I are for your wonderful program.This was Jake’s first year at Equine Dreams and I couldn’t be any happier with Jake’s progress than what I witnessed this past summer.He has not only shown improvement in use of his right hand/arm but he has had tremendous growth in his language skills and cognitive thinking since first riding.His sentences are much clearer and his vocabulary has increased as well his thought processing.
I am truly amazed at how much Jake has developed and progressed through this program in such a short period of time.It was a great change from the traditional therapies he had previously received.Jake’s family members and I are very anxious to see how much more Jake can do once the program becomes year round. It was really exciting to hear family and friends comment on how well he was doing. I realize that there is a little regression that has occurred since the riding has stopped so it will be very beneficial to Jake to ride year round.He is already looking forward to riding and actually he has been demanding that he wants to go to horse therapy now!
My family and I are truly thankful for all of the people that have taken time to make this program such a success. Many long days and hard work has gone into making this program what it is. Horse therapy means the world to many of these “special people” and that means the world to us caregivers.Being surrounded by the peacefulness and beauty of these special animals is a great feeling for all of us.
If there is any way in which we can help out to continue this therapeutic program, please let us know.We are willing to help out where we can.We want to help pay it forward.Thank you again for the experience and we look forward to starting up again this spring.
I want to thank Equine Dreams for the invaluable service they provide for our daughter Rachel, who was born with cerebral palsy. She is almost four years old, and she has just begun walking with a walker, thanks in part to the equine therapy she receives at Equine Dreams. All of the volunteers at Equine Dreams have such a heart for these special children, and the fact that they provide this service at no fee is such a blessing to our family.
When a family has a special needs child, the bills can be astronomical. I have just been working on medical bills and it seems that every time I turn around, she is in need of equipment, therapy, or surgery that may or may not be covered by insurance at varying degrees of coverage. And even though Equine Dreams could make it easier on themselves by charging the families for their services, they instead work harder themselves by fundraising, scrimping, and saving for their needs.
To have an option for therapy that is so challenging for Rachel yet brings her such joy is thrilling. To be able to take her to equine therapy and not have to worry about being able to pay for it is really a gift to us. To know that she will spend that hour surrounded by men and women who understand that she is precious is priceless.
Thank you so much, Equine Dreams, for all you have done for Rachel. She has missed the horses greatly over the winter. We do appreciate you, and we look forward to coming back in the spring.